Old jewelry often finds its way into thrift stores and yard sales. It’s like a small tarnished treasure, waiting to be rediscovered. I made each of these from left-behinds — pieces that no one was interested in anymore.

I love the hunt! You have to look beyond the missing pearl, the broken clasp, the twisted chain and ask yourself What if …?

I’ve found some beautiful necklace clasps that outshine (no pun intended) many of the versions available today. Even covered in grime the workmanship is evident. A little gentle Ivory dishwashing soap, some warm water and voila! Its beauty is suddenly apparent.

I lucked out at a recent yard sale — I picked up nearly 20 pieces of lovely work for next to nothing but my time. Gonna have fun working with these! ;-)

Thin-film physics, anyone? I never thought I’d write about that but — as it turns out — that’s apparently what gives dichroic glass its fascinating properties of light and colour.

Last winter I bought several pieces of dichroic glass from the husband of a beading friend. It was hard choosing only a few from so many beautiful ones. I planned to use them as cabochons in beaded necklaces.

But none of my ideas seemed to work. This week I finally realized they would look their best as stand-alone pieces, without the distraction of intricate beadwork.

Dichroic glass is beautiful and these handmade pieces are truly one of a kind. As you turn each piece light catches it at different angles and the colours seem to change as if by magic. It makes for an eye-catching piece of jewelry.

The most famous piece of ancient dichroic glass is the Lycurgus cup, a rare 4th century Roman cage cup. It changes from red to green depending on whether light is shining on it from the front (the cup appears green) or from behind (the cup appears red).

Today’s dichroic glass is made using a different technique. According to Trezora Glass:

Dichroic glass does not use paints, dyes, gels or any standard coloring agents to create color anymore than a prism does. The fantastic colors are created through the manipulation of light. The multi-colored effect is the result of complex light interactions called “thin film physics”. Thin-film physics are also responsible for rainbow patterns in a soap bubble, the swirling colors of an oil slick floating on a puddle and the dramatic reflections in dragonfly wings. 

Ain’t it grand when science and art collide. ;-)

Before

A trip to a thrift store is like a treasure hunt. I never know what I’m going to find. Which makes it even more fun.

I was out at the Coast last week and spent several happy hours browsing through leftovers, give-aways and no longer wanted items.

At one store I found these Alaska Black Diamond earrings. Like the Ugly Duckling they didn’t look very appealing. They were long and heavy and clunky.

Ah, but that’s the challenge — could I design something more appealing? Sometimes I buy old jewelry just for the components. This time I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the focal beads.

AfterI brought the earrings home and carefully took them apart. Then I washed and dried everything.

The beads were strung on wire in the original design — I chose a balled head pin instead. The bugle beads added clutter so I set them aside. I topped each “vase” with the original round bead.

The French ear wires added additional length to the original design, making it even more awkward. I opted for post-and-ball findings, to echo the round bead and smooth curves of the focals.

I’m pleased with how they turned out — it’s definitely a case where less is more. ;-)

Airdrie’s ARTember kicked off last Friday with the 3rd annual Art Show & Sale in the large showroom at Cam Clark Ford.

Nearly 30 artists had work for sale — painting, photography, wood turning, jewelry, bronze sculpture, wood carving and more. All the artists are members of ARTS (Airdrie Regional ARTS Society).

Here are a few who caught my eye.

Darryl Bernsten has been taking photographs for a long time but only recently begun to show his work professionally. His photo titled “Wheat” shows amazing detail.

Darryle Bernsten

John Smythe is a wood turner. His turned and decorated “Butterfly” vase won first place in the Woodturning Section of the 2013 Calgary Stampede Western Showcase. The judges also awarded it “Best of Show” for all woodworking entries.

John Smythe

Rick Berg has been painting for about 25 years and is best known for his wildlife and landscape work, like this piece titled “Mt. Assiniboine”.

Rick Berg

Ken Vicketts is a wood carver. This pair of gannets won Best of Show in the Wildlife category at the Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show.

Ken Vicketts

Diane M. Anderson has been working in bronze for about 35 years. This piece, titled “Quittin’ Time”, was bought by a collector at the show.

Diane M. Anderson

All in all, it was a great event. ;-)

Folklorico ERsI had time on my hands and beads in the tray so … stitched a pair of earrings to match the Folklorico necklace I made earlier this summer.

The brick stitch worked up quickly — the first round is done on the inside of the hoop. The 3-bead picot is then added to the outside.

I like to work with one length of thread. Twenty-four inches was a good length on these 3/4 inch hoops.

A pretty design and one I’m going to use again. ;-)

Our resident robins raised two broods this summer, amid long months of soggy weather. The last batch of young are fledged and on their own now.

I started this necklace about the time Ma Robin was brooding her first clutch. I finally finished it today. She’s obviously a faster worker. Mind you I did a lot between times — I just couldn’t figure out how I wanted to finish it.

The main holdup was the clasp. I knew what I wanted to do but I kept putting it off. I tried some of my own variations but they didn’t work. So I googled “wire wrapped cord” and came up with a site that had just what I needed — a tutorial!

Handmade clasp

Many thanks to Erin & Eric at Lytha Studios for posting this technique. ;-)

Airdrie is doing it again. Beginning September 13 the city is hosting 2 weeks of arts and culture to celebrate Alberta’s creative spirit, turning September into ARTember.

Part of the celebration is a wonderful art show and sale taking place September 13 and 14 in the showroom at Cam Clark Ford in Airdrie. This is the third year for this event and each year it gets better.

Artember Poster

You can check out some of the artists who will be appearing there (including me ;-) ) on Facebook.

“I want those earrings.”

“Pardon me?” I said.

“Those ones, the ones you’re wearing.”

At first I thought he was joking but the man standing in my booth at the show this past weekend was serious. He and his adult son had looked at all the earrings on my table and then his eyes settled on the ones I was wearing.

“Did you make those?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said. “They’re my favourite pair.”

“Well they’re the ones I want.”  He was buying a present for a woman in his life and those were the earrings he wanted.

“Sorry,” I replied. “They’re not for sale.”

He looked around again. “Well, what if I bought these as well?” He picked out a pair. “Sorry,” I said for the second time. “Not for sale.”

He continued looking. “I’d also like to buy these too.” He added a second pair to his purchase. He said it all with an easy manner and a big smile on his face.

How could I say no? “Okay!” I laughed at his persistence. I brought out my pliers, removed the clips from the earrings and put on new hooks. I wrapped each pair, he paid me and the deal was done.

He and his son walked away with 3 pairs of earrings and I made a sale I won’t soon forget.

The earrings really were my favourite. Luckily I can make another set. While I’m at it maybe I’ll make 2 pairs. Who knows? Maybe someone at my next show will want to buy them right off my ears. ;-)

Stone LilacThere’s a great outdoor Art Show & Sale coming up on August 24 & 25 in Sundre AB. The show runs from 10 to 5 both days and features several local artists.

There will be an interesting mix of art including pottery, paintings, woodwork and jewelry.

Organizer David Todd is hosting the show on the front lawn of his business, Otter Rafting Adventures. During the summer David runs successful white water rafting trips on the Red Deer River. During the winter — and in his spare hours other times — he runs Otter Pottery.

The annual Sundre Pro Rodeo — which was postponed because of the flooding in June — is also running this weekend.

It’s going to be lots of fun — hope you can join us!

Click here for a map. ;-)

Crystal Blue Delight Beading is a lot of fun — and even more so when I can share it with others.

I’m offering one of my most popular classes again on September 11th at the Sundre Public Library. (See my class titled “Crystal Wrap” for details.)

This right angle weave design combines those ever-so-blingy Swarovski crystals with silky smooth Swarovski crystal pearls. The bracelet is finished with an easy-on, easy-off snap clasp — no more fumbling with catches.

You can choose from a wide range of colours so that your bracelet will be uniquely your own. (I’ll also have extra kits available for purchase if you want to make more. But be warned: beading is addictive! ;-) )

The class is limited to 8 students. Please register with the Sundre Public Library (403-638-4000).

What’s with all the skulls? They seem to be an odd fashion statement — not one I thought I’d ever work with. But then I saw some in a bead store this week and thought, What the heck. I bought two. (They had to be different colours — you wouldn’t want to be caught dead wearing matching skulls.)

Dangling from ear wires they seemed rather lonely so I added a pair of matching hearts. Black. Of course.

BOO

P.S. If skulls don’t appeal, flip them upside down for a pair of plump puddy tats. ;-)

Sometimes the quickest way to learn something — for me, at least — is to take a class. A few weeks ago, with my renewed desire-to-wire, I signed up for Rena Klingenberg’s new online class titled “Design and Make Artistic Jewelry Components.”

I’m an avid reader of her Jewelry Making Journal and I’ve learned a lot. But I also know there’s a heck of a lot I don’t know. That’s why her course appealed to me.

The lessons are very well structured — videos, printable lesson plans and detailed how-to sheets. Rena starts with the basics — learning to make simple loops, spirals, hooks, folds and an assortment of squiggles. A solid base from which to set off in new directions.

It was while I was practicing the flat fold that I wondered what would happen if I opened it up. So I did. Now, what if I wrapped it around a pen? And then scrinched it a bit here? And then a bit there? And why not add some beads. And maybe a couple of loops.

Wait a minute! Houston, we have earrings! I made some hoops and we’re done. It was love at first glance.

Pink Heart

I was truly enamoured with these delicate delights. For a day. (I am so fickle.)

I’ve been working with copper lately. What if . . . well, out came some copper wire and dyed copper pearls. Once more I made some flat folds (Rena, thank you for starting us with basics). Moments later, a new pair of heart earrings.

Copper Heart

I love these two too.

Meanwhile back in online land, I’m into Part 3 of the course making clasps and bails and surprising myself with how easy it is to learn — thanks Rena!

P.S. Eagerly looking forward to your next course. :-)

I’m no Wire Whisperer.

I’ve made a few pieces with wire over the years, but wrangling with it was hit and miss and before long I’d find myself returning to beads, my first love.

Maybe it’s all the rainy weather these past few months (and watching the garden turn into a rice paddy) but I dug out several spools of wire, some tools and set out to see what I might see.

Winding wire is always an easy place to start (it makes me feel like I’m actually doing something). Next I wondered how I might add some beads. Okay, maybe just one. Hmmm. What would that look like as an earring?

Not bad. I kinda like it.

Pink Swirl Earrings

My work surface always looks like a toddler’s playpen. Stuff everywhere. Sometimes this is a good thing. I laid one earring swirl down beside a coil of cotton cord. Shazam! Another idea. What would this look like as a necklace?

One swirl didn’t quite seem enough. Three seemed too much. Two, now that, as Goldilocks might say, is just right.

Pink Swirl - Necklace

P.S. The earrings sold at the Bergen Farmers’ Market yesterday. Hey, this is fun! ;-)

The man who shares my pillow each night has a workshop filled with stuff. The other day I prowled through the little plastic drawers on his workbench and I hit the motherload — a tray of copper rings!

Luckily for me, he doesn’t have any use for them. They’re crushable washers that came with oil filters for a truck we no longer own. We struck a mutually agreeable bargain. I got the washers — he got 4 spools of Silamide I no longer use for beading.

Crushable copper washers

I picked out two washers, cleaned them off, then polished them with superfine (#0000) steel wool. They took on a lovely shine.

I added black rondelles and copper coils to handmade ear wires.

Shiny new earrings

Today I put two more washers on a steel block and gently flattened them with a chasing hammer. They stayed perfectly round. Tomorrow I’ll see what a riveting hammer does to them. Oooo, so much fun. ;-)

Wellspring’s 7th annual ArtWalk kicks off this week and that means a summer full of wonderful art in more than 30 venues across Central Alberta.

Wellspring-Artwalk-2013

This summer my work will be featured in Side Street Fashion & Accessories in Uptowne Olds, AB. I’m delighted to be there. The staff have been so welcoming and have provided me with a prominent spot to display my jewelry.

I do hope you’ll get a chance to stop by and tour the store — it’s brimming with beautiful designer clothes and accessories. Their summer sale is on right now, so be sure to check out the specials.

The official launch for ArtWalk is this Friday evening from 7 to 8 pm at the Olds Museum. A special thanks to the Olds Uptowne Group who are sponsoring this event.

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